Saturday, August 18, 2012

Game #119: Nationals 6, Mets 4

Two swings made the difference between a bounceback start for Johan Santana and more of the same from the team's former ace.

Santana served up a grand slam to Michael Morse and a 2-run homer to Bryce Harper as the Mets fell to the Nationals 6-4.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Santana was sharp in the beginning, tossing 3 perfect innings to get New York fans' hopes up. But a single, single, and single later in the 4th, those hopes were dashed when Michael Morse launched a grand slam to right center, and a 2-0 lead instantly became a 4-2 deficit. Things got even worse in the 5th when after getting the first two outs Johan gave up a single and a 2-run homer to new Mets nemesis Bryce Harper. It would be Santana's last frame of the night and secured his place as the first Met pitcher ever to allow 6+ earned runs in 5 straight starts.
  • New York's offense got 3 runs off Ross Detwiler in his 6 innings on the mound but went just 1-8 with RISP and stranded 6 men on base.
The Good Stuff:
  • Scott Hariston boosted his reputation as a lefty-buster by lacing 3 doubles off Detwiler and scoring twice.
  • Daniel Murphy picked up a 2-run single in the 1st to give his team an early lead.
  • Kelly Shoppach blasted a solo home run in the 7th for his first hit in a New York uniform and the first round-tripper by a Mets catcher since Mike Nickeas's grand slam against the Padres on May 26.
  • Manny Acosta and Ramon Ramirez kept the team in the game with a combined 3 scoreless innings after Johan's departure.
Final Analysis:
You can still call him "No-Han," but the context is entirely different. You could blame this on the no-hitter but he had a string of 3 consecutive quality starts, including 8 shutout innings at Dodger Stadium on June 30, before this recent string of futility. Nope, Johan may have simply run out of gas after coming off shoulder surgery. Two questions remain: first, if he doesn't have anything left this season, to (for lack of a better term) Strasburg or not to Strasburg? Second, with a full rotation lined up for next season, where does Johan Santana fit into the Mets' future plans?

Tomorrow night is the team's best chance to steal one from the home of baseball's best team as Jon Niese goes up against beta-ace Edwin Jackson. On Sunday afternoon Jeremy Hefner rings in the era of the 6-man rotation against Gio Gonzalez. Hey, miracles can happen, right?


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